The thing about Nepal is that you can never run out of spiritual places to visit. And yet most of them are old temples with the same archaic architecture and follows a typical path of devotion. Shashwat Dham, on the other hand, is completely different, both in terms of ambience and philosophy practised in the establishment. In the calm and composed premises of Shashwat Dham, spirituality finds a new home and an evolved meaning altogether. The temple and ashram complex is located in the beautiful surroundings of Devchuli region of Nawalprasi district in south-central Nepal, on the east-west Mahendra Highway only 23 kilometres from the twin city of Bharatpur-Narayangarh. The sprawling expanse of Shashwat Dham spreads over 12 acres of land. Given the central shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, this could be a subtle token of reference to the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva that we know of.
Flowers, conches, cymbals and bells, whispers that muted desires tell. The ambience of the Pashupatinath Temple is ethereal with the prayers that leave the lips of the devotees and mingle with the melodious ring of the bell and rise with the scented smoke of the burning incense. One of the holiest Hindu shrines in Nepal, the Pashupatinath Temple is stretched across both the banks of the beautiful and sacred Bagmati River on the eastern fringes of the capital city of Kathmandu. The magnificent sanctum devoted to Lord Shiva draws in thousands of devotees who come to offer their prayers and seek blessings from Him. Sprawled across a large area with temples and ashrams, this temple is a repository of pictures, images, and intricately inscribed tablets. It is believed that the Jyotirlinga housed in the Pashupatinath temple is the head of the body which is made up of the twelve Jyotirlinga in India. In 1979, the magnificent temple was gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated at a distance of 22 kilometres from Kathmandu, the Dakshinkali Temple is seated in the heart of a valley, only a kilometre away from the quaint village of Pharping. As the darkness of the night fades and gives way to the bright morning, this magnificent temple comes alive with a fusion of reverberating sounds of the loud gongs, conches, bells and the rhythmic chants. The place of worship is one of the most important temples in the country and is dedicated to the fierce and feared Goddess Kali. The fame of this temple lies in its rituals and traditions. Twice a week, animals are sacrificed at this religious place - uncastrated male goats and cockerels in particular – as an offering to the ferocious spouse of Lord Shiva.
Timings: Open all days - 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Some 320 steps from the main entrance will take you to a lofty hilltop, on which the Swayambhunath Temple is built, giving a spectacular view of the Kathmandu Valley lying below. Also known as the 'Monkey Temple' because of the mob of monkeys that reside here, Swayambhunath Temple is a sacred structure for both Buddhists and Hindus.
The large dome of the temple symbolizes the entire world, and the eyes painted on a cubicle above the dome represent wisdom and compassion, which helps one reach the state of enlightenment. Swayambhu Temple dates back to the 5th century CE. Legend has it that the Kathmandu Valley was once filled with a lake and the temple was born out of a lotus that bloomed in the middle, the name meaning 'Self-created'.
Timings: Open all days - 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM.
Entry Fee: NPR 200
Famous for its enigmatic stone carved statue of Lord Vishnu in a resting position, the open-air Budhanilkantha Temple is definitely an architectural marvel of Nepal. The statue, which is over 1000 years old, is carved out of a single block of black stone and lies in a recessed pool of water.
According to the local legend, a farmer and his wife once stuck the statue while cultivating the land and blood started to flow. This led to the discovery of the water figure of Budhanilkantha deity which floats in water. Another legend states that the statue was brought to Kathmandu during the reign of Vishnu Gupta in the seventeenth century. Thousands of pilgrims visit Kathmandu to attend the Haribondhini Ekadashi Mela, which takes place on the 11th day of Hindu month of Kartik (October / November) and celebrate the awakening on Lord Vishnu from a very long sleep.
Timings: Open all days - 3:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For Darshana, visit between 4:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Jagannath Temple is the oldest structure in the Durbar Square area, claimed to have been constructed by Pratap Malla, but historical evidence suggests that it was built by Mahendra Malla, back in 1563. The two-storeyed temple is built on a three-tiered platform and is famous for the erotic carvings on its roof. Apart from its historical and religious importance, get ready to be surprised by the intricate carvings on the walls.
Timings: Open all days - 24 hours
Situated on the west branch of Bagmati River, between Pashupatinath and Gujeshwori Temples, Kirateshwar Mahadev is one of the many dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a legacy of the Kirant Dynasty of Nepal Valley. According to the gurus present here, Kirantis prayed and buried the dead at Kirateshwar. Although the architecture is simple, what's interesting is the Nepali music concert that is held every full moon night. Enjoy your evening with some soothing music produced by classical instruments like tabla, flute, and sitar. Entry is free.
Timings: Attend the musical concert on full moon nights, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
This architectural marvel of Nepal, locally known as Maru Sattal, built in pagoda-style architecture and believed to be made out of a single tree, collapsed during the 2015 earthquake. The initial attempts at its reconstruction were put off due to protests from public and conservationists demanding originality. The rebuilding has now kicked off and will certainly be completed by 2021.
It is believed that Kathmandu got its name from Kasthamandapa, which may have been built in the 7th century, the oldest temple built in the Lichhavi period - proving its historical significance.
Located on the embarkments of Bagmati River near Pashupatinath Mandir, Guhyeshwari Temple is one of the many Shakti Peeths which holds immense significance among many Hindus and Tantric practitioners. King Mala built this temple in the 17th century. It is believed that after the self-immolation of Sati, Shiva wandered, carrying the corpse on his shoulder. Wherever the parts of that body fell, Shakti Peeths originated. Arguably, this temple is where Sati's knowledge (Guhya) fell and hence originated the Guhyeshwari Shakti Peeth.
Only Hindus are allowed to enter the shrine where the goddess is worshipped in a water container called Kalash, which is covered with a layer of silver and gold. Built in the Bhutanese pagoda-style architecture, the exterior of the temple is quite simple, but the walls and pillars are adorned with flower motifs and beautiful patterns.
Timings: Open all days - 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Located on a hilltop, the Vajrayogini or Bajrayogini Temple is a Tantrik Temple dedicated to the Buddhist Tantric Goddess in Nepal. It is also known as Bodhisattva's Temple and is situated in Sankhu, a small place in the Kathmandu Valley. One needs to climb a stone stairway to reach the temple complex, but once there, every visitor is bound to be fascinated with the beauty of the ancient temple complex that includes stonework, wood carvings, metalwork, smaller temples, caves and a stupa belonging to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. In 2015, the temple was struck by a massive earthquake and its architecture took a major hit. Some sections have been restored, but some run a risk of crashing down. Most of it is supported with wooden planks. Tourists, however, can observe them from the outside and even click pictures.
Seto Machindranath Temple is a Hindu and Buddhist temple located in Jana Bahal. The temple is believed to be built around 10th century and houses the idol of Seto Machindranath, also known as Janabaha Dyo. During the month of Chaitra, a three days long chariot procession festival of the Lord is held here.
Changu Narayan is a synonymous word with both the old Nepalese temple and the village that surrounds it. Located in the Bhaktapur district some 12 km east of Kathmandu, the existence of this temple is more or less the only reason the village called Changu Narayan is known to the outside world. Changu Narayan has an authentic Newari style architecture very true to its roots. With its two storey brick-red edifice, the beautiful temple perches atop a hill which is also called Changu or sometimes Dolagiri.
This post was published by Joysurjya Hagjer
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